Gastric and Esophageal Cancer

Overgrowth of gastric cells inside the stomach is known as gastric cancer. These cells form a tumor. While Esophageal cancer is caused by esophageal cells growing out of control. The esophagus is a tube made out of muscle that connects your mouth to your stomach.

  • Smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Health issues like reflux and Barrett’s Esophagus (a serious complication of GERD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease).
  • Weighing more than you should.
  • Eating a lot of pickled, salted, dried, or smoked foods.
  • Genetic mutations like familial adenomatous polyposis and PeutzJeghers syndrome

There are no specific signs of gastric and esophageal cancer but you might have the following signs:

  • Upset stomach, Burping &Not feeling hungry
  • Feeling like food is getting stuck in your chest
  • Pain when swallowing can make you lose weight

Following are the tests recommended when diagnosing gastric and esophageal cancer:

  • Endoscopy with or without ultrasound
  • CT and PET scans can be used to look for metastasis
  • Endoscopy
  • Biopsy 

Other tests are important, but a biopsy is the only way to know for sure if you have cancer. A biopsy:

  • Looks at a piece of the esophagus for cancer cells
  • Is used to find out the cancer type and if it has spread
  • May look at samples from lymph nodes to check for cancer

To guide treatment, gastric and esophageal cancer is “staged.” This stage is based on:

  • Size and location of the tumor
  • Whether cancer cells are in the lymph nodes
  • Whether cancer cells are in other parts of the body

Stages range from stage I (smallest, most confined tumors) to stage IV (tumors that have spread to other parts of the body, also called metastatic cancer). The stage of gastric and esophageal cancer will guide your treatment plan.

Often, these treatments are used:

  • Surgery to remove the whole tumor to cure gastric cancer. Depending on the size of the tumor either part of or the whole stomach will be removed.
  • Radiation, the use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells, can be used before or after surgery.
  • Chemotherapy, using medications to kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.